RIP Pedrie Wannenburg (1981 to 2022)
RIP Pedrie Wannenburg (1981 to 2022). Photo: SARugby

Former Springbok loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg tragically passed away on Friday evening (early Saturday morning SA time), after he was involved in a serious car accident in Houston in the USA. He was 41-years-old.

On Sunday, Mark Alexander – President of SA Rugby – paid tribute to Wannenburg, who made his Springbok debut against France in Paris in 2002 at the age of 21. He was a stalwart of the Vodacom Bulls team that won numerous Carling Currie Cup and Vodacom Super Rugby titles in the 2000s.

Earmarked for higher honours since his school days at Hoër Landbouskool Oakdale in South Western Districts, Wannenburg was a member of the SA Under-21 team that won the World Championship om home soil in 2002, and a few months later he made his Test debut.

“Pedrie will be remembered as one of the first real versatile loose forwards who could play in any position in the back row and even though he played in only 20 Tests, his record in the colours of the Bulls, during a period where they dominated on all levels, is nearly unmatched,” said Mr Alexander.

“After he finished his career in South Africa, he went on to make a big impact playing club rugby in Ireland, France and later the USA, and he started giving back to the game in a coaching capacity after he retired a few years ago.

Wannenburg was a member of the Vodacom Bulls team that won Vodacom Super Rugby in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – MAY 30, Pedrie Wannenburg celebrate after the Super 14 final match between Vodacom Bulls and Chiefs from Loftus Versfeld Stadium on May 30, 2009, in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

“Pedrie was a fun-loving and hard-working man and someone who gave all he had on the pitch, but afterwards always had a smile on his face. He represented his country with aplomb – who will ever forget the try he scored in the narrow victory over the All Blacks in Rustenburg in 2006?

“To lose someone at the cusp of the rest of his life with a young family, after a long and storied rugby career is extremely sad and our thoughts are with his wife, Evette, their two children, Isabelle and Francois, as well as his parents and other family members, loved ones and friends during this very difficult time.”

Wannenburg reportedly died when a 16-year-old driver led police on a high-speed chase and crashed into the back of Wannenburg’s car at an intersection. His wife and two children were in the vehicle with him but did not sustain life-threatening injuries.

Wannenburg was a member of the Vodacom Bulls team that won Vodacom Super Rugby in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and the Carling Currie Cup from 2002 to 2004, 2006 (shared) and 2009. He was also the first player to reach 100 caps in Vodacom Super Rugby and set a record of 99 consecutive games.

In 2010, he moved to Ireland and played for Ulster, followed by stints with French clubs Oyonnax and Castres, before he moved to the USA and played for Denver and Austin. Wannenburg retired from the game in 2018 and then started coaching in the USA.

The Vodacom Bulls have announced that a moment of silence will be held in honour of Wannenburg before the start of their Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Benetton on Saturday.